Maybe Matilda: Summer of the Handmade Dress

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Summer of the Handmade Dress

Have I mentioned that I love dresses? I mean really, really love them, maybe to an unhealthy extreme. If dresses and I could run away together and get married in a 200-year old chapel in a field and move into a bungalow cottage with window boxes filled with pansies and have sweet little ruffly dress babies, I would have done it by now.

But it's a bit of a complicated love, because I find dresses difficult to shop for. I'm tall-ish, so they're always too short on me, and I would prefer if everyone didn't see my hiney with every passing breeze (note: although I'm getting a red squiggle misspelling alert under the word "hiney", google tells me I spelled it right; so confused!), and I think everyone else would prefer that as well. And I need sleeves, which apparently dress designers take issue with. And why are all the cute ones so dang expensive?!

So I've decided: this will be The Summer of the Handmade Dress. And I'm capitalizing it, because it's going to be A Thing (for me, at least). I've done poorly with sewing clothing in the past, but the fact that I pick it up every few months only to get frustrated and tear it all to pieces again makes me think I really should just learn how to do it already so I can stop whining about not having any dresses to wear.

So! Read more to see what's on the docket for this spring and summer . . .

I love the McIntosh Dress from Spool No. 72, and it seems like dress-making really couldn't get much simpler than this . . . fitted tee, a-line skirt, thick sash, BLAM. Done. And I already have the little striped tee, so I just need to get my hands on some pink cotton and it's a go. I'm planning to add pockets, and my version will have, you guessed it, sleeves.

I picked up this Simplicity pattern last time Joann's had their $1 pattern sale (I love that!), and I think this dress looks so light and breezy for summer. I think I want to make it short-sleeved, and lengthen it a bit (am I really that prudish? I promise I don't walk around in ankle-length denim skirts and gigantic shapeless button downs), but I'm already picturing myself wearing this while I walk barefoot on a beach (which are plentiful in Iowa, in case you were wondering).

Speaking of light and breezy, I am loving this Lace Shirtdress from Delia's, which I think would be pretty simple to duplicate as well, especially since I just got my hands on some adorable white eyelet trim . . . for free! Score!
Another cute $1 Simplicity pick . . . I love how effortless this dress looks (and I mean how it looks, not how it looks to sew, although it would be great if that were effortless, too . . . time will tell). I'd prefer if it had sleeves, but maybe I can add some? I don't know, we'll see how it goes.

So there you have it, my starting lineup for The Summer of the Handmade Dress. Of course, the in-my-head version of this list is about 5 times longer, but I didn't want to scare you all away, or dig myself an even bigger pit to have to crawl and hide in if my dress-making efforts flop because I'll be chronicling my dress-making progress right here for everyone to enjoy/laugh at, and I'd love for you to join me :-)

Who's with me? Anyone else planning on doing any spring and summer sewing?


  1. Oooh! I've got the itch now, too! :)

  2. Your writing makes me laugh. : )
    I love it. And I really like the summer dress goals you have...perhaps I will make some too....we'll see.

  3. I'm liking that lace shirtdress. I'm a lazy woman - rarely wear skirts or dresses, even in summer! Maybe you can convince me otherwise!

  4. Gosh, everything on your blog is jus so bright and pretty! I love it! It makes me feel like spring has arrived. :) Found you via the EBT, by the way!


  5. Oh geez, it's as if I wrote this myself! I've always had a love/hate relationship with sewing, and I NEED someone to teach me how to just follow a flippin pattern, that's all I need! Basics I've got down, just need some pattern 101! Seriously. I'm on board with the frilly dress making with sleeves of course(I've got fat arms). Let's do it!!!!!!!!!

  6. OH, and had to post this just to show you what's been sitting in my cart for a few months....waiting to be purchased...or sewn :)

  7. Wow, awesome! Post pics when you finish your dresses. Can't wait to see!

    I won't be doing any sewing of clothing this summer, because then I wouldn't have time for painting! I'll definitely be doing a little needlework though!


  8. @the girl

    That dress is ADORABLE! I wish Shabby Apple wasn't so expensive--I LOVE their dresses! How great would it be to not have to add 2 or 3 layers to a dress to feel confident in it?!

  9. I miss wearing dresses! I love a nice simple summer dress :) And you've picked out some great ones to sew! Can't wait to see them done!

  10. Sounds great! I looove summer dresses, wish I could wear them all year round! But alas... Oregon is cold right now.
    I have that Cynthia Rowley pattern--be careful what you make with it; the slit will show your bra if you don't wear anything under!

  11. Cute dresses!
    I really like the lace shirtdress!

  12. In my mind I am a clothing designer, although I can barely sew a hem! Good luck on your hand made dress summer mission, maybe you will inspire me to learn to sew as well!

    p.s. excited to be a new follower, found you on EBT! :)

  13. I bought some patterns to start making some summer dresses too. I'm not big on dresses but I'm trying to get into them.

  14. I think many people get that way about sewing, especially if you really love it. And yay for dresses! :)Found you on EBT.


  15. I have always been jelous of dresses for a couple reasons.
    1. it is a complete outfit... yes I realize that you need to accessorize, but still it is top to bottom, there is no male garment equivalent
    2 light and flowy, I have often seen in the summer girls in dresses not looking hot (the heat kind) at all while in my shorts and a tshirt I am sweating unbearably
    3 They just look bad on me.

  16. You are SO ambitious! I want to figure out how to get dress #1 in maternity. Because this is my summer of the miserable pregnant lady who is also too tall for most standard sizes...

  17. I love the a-line skirt with the cute t-shirt!!! What a great idea!


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